Two Engineering Students Invent A Sonic Fire Extinguisher

January 13, 2017

Two engineering students invented a new generation fire extinguisher that puts out flames by only playing heavy bass.

It might sound like an amazing party-toy but this sonic fire extinguisher actually can put out a fire with sound waves spread through a mobile subwoofer gun.

Killin’ da fi-ya!

Based on the idea of quenching fires with heavy bass sound, two engineering students from George Mason University in Virginia developed an unusual fire extinguisher. When compared to the chemical compound of classic extinguishers, their invention offers the cleanest way to put out flames.

[Image Source: George Mason University]

After an extensive period of research and prototyping, two final-year undergraduate engineering students, Seth Robertson and Viet Tran, came up with a nearly non-destructive way to control fires. Although their innovation only works on small fires yet, the method works perfectly.

The idea of using sound waves to quench a fire is not new at all. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has tested the idea before. However, Tran and Robertson are the first ones who have turned the principle into a practical device.

How can sound waves put out a fire?

Some of you might be familiar with experiencing dub music not only with your ears but also with your body. For those who are into deep bass sounds would know; if your chest ain’t rattling, it’s not happening, right? That is basically how the innovation of these young engineers works. Just with a little bit of difference; the gadget they have designed focuses the sound waves in a specific direction instead of spreading them.

Above all, sound waves have the ability to manipulate both oxygen and burning material. If these two gets separated, the fire dies away. Surely the study behind the invention went through a few ‘failed frequencies’. By testing out different frequencies, Tran and Robertson founnd out that high-pitched tones were ineffective on flames. They came to the realization that it is all about low-frequency bass sounds between 30 and 60 Hz. Therefore, deep bass tunes of hip hop, dub, dubstep, d&b, trap or grime would also work on flames.

[Image Source: George Manson University]

The device is consisted of an amplifier and a cardboard collimator to focus the sound. The duo’s final prototype cost them only about $600 to develop the 9 kg device.

Seth Robertson and Viet Tran still work on the development of the device for it to be effective on larger fires. Even if they initially envisaged their invention to be used on small fires such as grease fires on stovetops, their mechanism has a potential to be combined with many different systems as well.

SEE ALSO: Can Sound Actually Kill You?


Stay on top of the latest engineering news

We'll keep you posted!